Iomega offers low cost NAS

Iomega, best known for its portable Zip and Jaz drives, has launched products aimed at the high-end world of network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

Iomega, best known for its portable Zip and Jaz drives, has launched products aimed at the high-end world of network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

The company is selling boxes from hard disk maker Maxtor, rebranded as Iomega DataSafe NAS servers. The prices are relatively low for the NAS world.

Network-attached storage is hard disk space assigned its own IP network address rather than being attached directly to the server, so storage and applications are not competing for the same processor resources.

A 320GB DataSafe model with a 50-seat licence for Iomega's QuickSync automatic client backup software is $14,850 including GST and a 160GB model with a 20-seat QuickSync licence retails for $10,395 plus GST.

Iomega is a late entry into NAS technology although it is playing in the lowest end of the market. Network Appliances, IBM, EMC, Sun, HP and Compaq have all been making high-end NAS devices, servers dedicated to storing data on the network, for the past two years at least.

Peter Dawson, who heads Iomega in New Zealand and Australia, says DataSafe NAS servers are aimed at two market segments.

The first he describes as "do-it-yourself" corporate users who don't want to pay a large brand premium and will order it over the internet. The other segment is small businesses that don't have the expertise do set the server up themselves and are likely to use a reseller.

Iomega's point of differentiation is its low cost but Dawson says the company is not trying to compete with the likes of Network Appliances and IBM. The DataSafe uses IDE drives instead of SCSI and doesn't include RAID.

IBM's entry-level specialist NAS product offers 218GB at around $40,000 ex GST but Big Blue says it can configure an NT Server as a NAS server with 180GB of high speed disk for around $12,000 ex GST. Its high-speed NAS device uses a 36.4GB Ultra-160 10,000 RPM SCSI. Features include hot-swappable drives and redundant power and cooling.

"Essentially, the Iomega is a neat little device suitable for home use, or any small business which doesn't require high speed access to their data," says IBM spokesman Jeremy Seed.

Compaq's NAS product, the N2400, comes with hardware-based RAID, redundant power and remote lights out capabilities. In supports from 144GB to 2TB in a non-clustered mode per server. By clustering the appliances can support 10TB per cluster. It comes with dual processors as standard and 1GB of memory. The cost is $59,995.

Iomega has also introduced a removable storage device, Peerless, which comes in 10GB and 20GB versions. Peerless drives are about the size of a PDA and slip into a base station. The electronics reside in the base station and are separate to the removable disks. The drive can be used with a PC or Apple Mac, but could also be used with new types of devices for playing music and video.

Iomega is positioning the drive as an alternative to optical drive technologies such as writable CD drives and DVD. It would be useful in workgroups dealing with CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing), software development and database management, says Dawson.

A 20GB Peerless retails for $1299 including GST, while the 10GB version sells for $1149 including GST. The 10GB disk sells for $499 and the 20GB for $599.

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